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5 fishermen slain in Sulu sea attack

05:07 PM December 07, 2013

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Gunmen aboard a speedboat shot dead five members of a fishing crew in a mysterious attack in the seas of the southern Philippines, the coast guard said Saturday.

The five were part of a fishing fleet off the troubled southern islands of Sulu when the gunmen attacked them on Friday, said Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant Jomark Angue.

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Even as the five leapt overboard, the gunmen riddled them with bullets, then sped off.

Only three of the bodies were recovered, he said.

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The attackers were suspected to be pirates Angue added. But it was unclear why they would attack the fishing boat crew.

Law-enforcement sources said the attack might be part of an extortion attempt by armed groups operating in Sulu, an impoverished, heavily-forested group of islands.

Among the armed groups in Jolo are Muslim separatists who staged a bloody three-week siege in the southern city of Zamboanga in September.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, a group known for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history, including bombings, kidnappings and banditry, are also active in Sulu along with other outlaw bands.

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TAGS: Conflict, Philippine Coast Guard, standoff, Sulu, Terrorism
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